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Massive replanting after squatters were forced out
Published on: Sunday, September 24, 2017

(Second of a series)
FOLLOWING encroachment into the KK Wetlands (KKW) by almost 100 illegal squatters, there was massive replanting by schools and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to fill the vacuum left by the "intruders".

"Adlin managed to persuade the government to move the squatters out.

By then, parts of the wetlands had become barren. There were a lot of degraded areas as a result of the cutting down of mangrove trees by the squatters.

"At the rate we were going (planting) over the years, the place had become 'overloaded', and we (Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society (SWCS) could not plant here anymore. You can see the difference before and now.

So we do not encourage any more planting in KKW.

"We decided to look for new places for planting mangroves such as the Sulaman Lake Forest Reserve (SLFR) in Tuaran. We applied to the Sabah Forestry Department for land. Its Director Datuk Sam Mannan was very happy and approved an area of 7.41 hectares for our planting exercise," said Zainie.

On Sept 8, 2009, Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society (SWCS) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) during the Heart of Borneo (HoB) Conference at the Magellan Sutera Hotel. It was witnessed by then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Since then, the Society has been submitting annual reports to the department on the progress of mangrove planting. Zainie was one of the five signatories, the others representing other organisations.

"Overall, the Director is pleased with our performance."

According to him, Forestry conservator Datuk Sam Mannan wants SWCS to continue with the MOU, prompting the Society to seek for an extension of land because the area concerned is almost full.

"For the 7.41 hectares of mangrove degraded area, we were supposed to replant 25,000 mangrove trees within five years, but the place could only accommodate some 24,200 trees.

"We can't plant more because certain sites are too deep for planting," he said, adding the success rate has been worth it.

In its continued commitment towards mangrove conservation, The Forestry Department designated another 3.11ha within the Sulaman Lake Forest Reserve (SLFR) for the Society to plant another 11,000 mangrove saplings over five years (2016-2021). "About 40pc of the area has been utilised for the purpose, so we can continue planting until the end of the year. Our last project was with CIMB Foundation.

Recently, it wrote to Sam again to consider allocating more land for mangrove planting.

"The Sabah Forestry Department proposed a site at Kg Panimbawan (Kota Belud).

Our people visited the place and it is still in the discussion stage."

Apart from locals and those from the peninsula, there have been university students from Singapore, Japan and Korea who participated in planting mangroves at the Sulaman Lake Forest Reserve. - Mary Chin and James Sarda

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